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Pandemic Wiped Out Entire Savings Of 20% Of US Households

Pandemic Wiped Out Entire Savings Of 20% Of US Households

Over the weekend, we showed a staggering wealth distribution statistic cementing the US status as a banana republic: according to Fed data which breaks down the distribution of wealth.

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Pandemic Wiped Out Entire Savings Of 20% Of US Households

Over the weekend, we showed a staggering wealth distribution statistic cementing the US status as a banana republic: according to Fed data which breaks down the distribution of wealth according to income quintile (or 20% bucket) the middle 60% of US households by income saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%.

While especially true for the top 1%, it is all the rich that have benefited from the Fed's generous liquidity pump at the expense of the extinction of the US middle class - as the next chart shows, over the past 30 years, 10 percentage points of American wealth has shifted to the top 20% of earners, who now hold 70% of the total. The bottom 80% are left with less than 30%.

But while we have extensively discussed the destructive impact of the Fed on the middle class - while enriching the top 1% - a view espoused recently by Stan Druckenmiller who in May called the Fed the single "greatest engine of wealth inequality" in history (to which we would also add the end of the gold standard under Nixon), some have asked what about the sub-middle class? After all one can argue (correctly) that the swing voter in the US is not in the top 1%, but rather in the bottom 50%.

Well, as we previously pointed out, the bottom 50% own just 2% of all net worth, or a paltry $2.8 trillion. What is even more sad is that the wealth of the bottom 50% is virtually unchanged since 2006, while the net worth of the Top 1% has risen by 132% from $17.9 trillion to $41.5 trillion.

But to get a sense of just how precarious the everyday existence of the lower classes is, consider the following stunning fact: Bloomberg reports that according to a poll of 3,616 adults aged 18 and older from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health released on Tuesday, for many Americans the Covid lockdowns - with nowhere to go and nothing to do - was a time to save. But for almost 20% of U.S. households, the pandemic wiped out their entire financial cushion.

The share of respondents who said they lost all their savings jumped to 30% for those making less than $50,000 a year, the poll found. Black and Latino households were also harder hit.

Avenel Joseph, a vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said many people dipped into their savings to cover child or health care expenses. “When crisis hits, or anything goes out of the norm—your child is sick, for example—you are sacrificing wages,” she said. Almost two thirds of households earning less than $50,000 a year said they had trouble affording rent, medical care, and food.

While about two-thirds of people surveyed said they received financial assistance from the government in the past few months, 44% said those programs only “helped a little.”

“We always knew there was going to be an uneven recovery,” Joseph said. “The safety net always had holes, and the pandemic ripped those holes even wider.” Lawmakers in Congress are currently debating how much to spend on shoring up the safety net going forward.

While the staggering social divide is truly sad, and largely a byproduct of the Fed's catastrophic policies in the past decade, it does bring up an important point: while much has been said about the $2 trillion or so in excess savings created during the covid pandemic (assuming most if not all of that has not already been spent to fund the resurgent household spending in the US)...

... the reality is that the distribution of savings was also extremely skewed to benefit the wealthiest. And according to Morgan Stanley, the top 20% of US income groups benefited from two-thirds of all savings. The rest, or the "bottom 80%", retained just a third of this (debatable) $2 trillion in excess savings. Here is Morgan Stanley:

The Fed's Distributional Financial Accounts provide insight on who is holding this tremendous stock in savings:

Looking at cash holdings (checkable deposits and currency) from 1Q20-1Q21 across the income distribution shows that 65% of excess cash (cash accumulated above the 4Q19 level) is held among the top 20%, while 35% is spread across the bottom 80% (top 80% holds ~$1.4tn in excess savings and bottom 80% holds ~$800bn, Exhibit 4).

And, judging by the poll referenced above, the lower 80% have already spent most if not all of their savings!

What are the implications?

Well, higher income households that hold a tremendous amount of excess savings make up a majority of consumer spending – the top 40% income group represents over 60% of expenditures (Exhibit 5). However, spending by higher income households is not very sensitive to income changes. This is why it is important that the lower-middle income group hold excess savings and have a steady income stream. The transition from government transfer income (unemployment insurance benefits, rebate checks, child tax credits) to labor market income is critical and is expected to support continued spending even as the fiscal impulse fades.

The Opportunity Insights credit and debit card spending tracker by income tercile shows that consumer spending among the lowest tercile has consistently been higher relative to pre-Covid than middle and higher income groups. This holds even through mid- August where we have moved past the immediate bump from rebate checks, when the $600 federal supplemental UI benefits expired last summer, and during the second and third waves of Covid (Exhibit 6).

To summarize: the rich not only got richer, but managed to save up over a trillion. Meanwhile, the "lower 80%" retained just a third of the $2 trillion in excess savings with many if not all cohorts within this segment have already spent all of their savings. As such, any optimistic GDP forecast which assumes that GDP will continue to grow in 2022 as a result of continued spending of "excess savings" by the bulk of the population, such as that done over the past weekend by Goldman (see gray bar in the chart below)...

... is terribly incorrect, for one simple reason: that many is gone, all gone. And while the rich still are holding a major portion of their "excess savings", they are far more likely to keep holding to it, or simply invest it in risk assets, which will bring absolutely no benefits to the US economy. It will however, ramp stocks even higher.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/14/2021 - 13:29

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International

Visualizing The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Visualizing The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, as Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley notes, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t…

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Visualizing The World's Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley notes, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t have tangible proof of a bubble until it actually bursts.

And by then, it’s too late.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, serves as an early warning system, evaluating 25 global cities and scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Reading the Signs

Bubbles are hard to distinguish in real-time as investors must judge whether a market’s pricing accurately reflects what will happen in the future. Even so, there are some signs to watch out for.

As one example, a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents is a common red flag. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

With this in mind, which global markets are exhibiting the most bubble risk?

The Geography of Real Estate Bubbles

Europe is home to a number of cities that have extreme bubble risk, with Frankfurt topping the list this year. Germany’s financial hub has seen real home prices rise by 10% per year on average since 2016—the highest rate of all cities evaluated.

Two Canadian cities also find themselves in bubble territory: Toronto and Vancouver. In the former, nearly 30% of purchases in 2021 went to buyers with multiple properties, showing that real estate investment is alive and well. Despite efforts to cool down these hot urban markets, Canadian markets have rebounded and continued their march upward. In fact, over the past three decades, residential home prices in Canada grew at the fastest rates in the G7.

Despite civil unrest and unease over new policies, Hong Kong still has the second highest score in this index. Meanwhile, Dubai is listed as “undervalued” and is the only city in the index with a negative score. Residential prices have trended down for the past six years and are now down nearly 40% from 2014 levels.

Note: The Real Estate Bubble Index does not currently include cities in Mainland China.

Trending Ever Upward

Overheated markets are nothing new, though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of real estate markets.

For years, house price appreciation in city centers was all but guaranteed as construction boomed and people were eager to live an urban lifestyle. Remote work options and office downsizing is changing the value equation for many, and as a result, housing prices in non-urban areas increased faster than in cities for the first time since the 1990s.

Even so, these changing priorities haven’t deflated the real estate market in the world’s global cities. Below are growth rates for 2021 so far, and how that compares to the last five years.

Overall, prices have been trending upward almost everywhere. All but four of the cities above—Milan, Paris, New York, and San Francisco—have had positive growth year-on-year.

Even as real estate bubbles continue to grow, there is an element of uncertainty. Debt-to-income ratios continue to rise, and lending standards, which were relaxed during the pandemic, are tightening once again. Add in the societal shifts occurring right now, and predicting the future of these markets becomes more difficult.

In the short term, we may see what UBS calls “the era of urban outperformance” come to an end.

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/23/2021 - 22:00

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Government

The return of text is inevitable

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here. On Equity this week, we discussed the value of the written word. You can imagine that the resulting argument is inheren

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Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

On Equity this week, we discussed the value of the written word. You can imagine that the resulting argument is inherently biased, considering we are three journalists who have bet our livelihoods on ink; but, I promise, there’s more nuance here beyond how important a lede is.

We recently published a recent deep dive on Automattic, the commercial media company behind the WordPress publishing platform. Founded in 2005, Automattic is one of the few companies that has been able to evolve and expand its way through a graveyard of media sites. Valued at $7.5 billion, it has also convinced investors of the financial promise of its vision.

I was most struck by how text has shaped Automattic’s hiring process: The company offers a purely written interview, where potential new hires never need to reveal their face or voice to anyone through the recruitment funnel. It takes away the inherent bias that comes with a Zoom interview, which, at its core, is just a digital version of a face-to-face interview. Monica Ohara, chief marketing officer of WordPress.com, explained more about her thinking:

“You normally think you’ve got to talk to them; see them on video. With text only, you remove all this bias and focus on the content of what they’re saying, and also test for a style of communication that’s really important in a distributed team.

“In Silicon Valley, everyone is competing for the same people that would add diversity to your pool. Which is great for those people, but what about all the others who don’t have those opportunities because of where they were born or live? For me, I was born in the Philippines and if I hadn’t had the luck to move here, I’d be living a different life.”

Rethinking the value of text, the same way we rethink how many synchronous meetings should be on our calendar, feels like the natural next step for companies figuring out how to scale distributed work. Even in a world seemingly ruled by short-form video, words — and sound — seem to matter in a way that other formats never will.

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about PayPal’s reported new friend, the Chinese venture capital market and not at all about Facebook’s impending new rebrand. 

PayPal picks Pinterest

Image Credits: TechCrunch

We rushed to Twitter Spaces this week after rumors came out that PayPal may be buying Pinterest for a reported $45 billion. The fintech giant has been on an acquisition spree of sorts, but scooping up a social, photo-sharing platform may signal its hungry to own the content — not just the customer.

Here’s what to know: This feels nostalgic. PayPal potentially joining forces with a more content-focused e-commerce business comes more than a half-decade after it divorced from eBay. But, as Finix Chief Growth Officer Jareau Wadé pointed out, Pinterest is not a shopping destination like eBay — it’s a place where shopping begins for nearly 450 million users.

In a Substack post, Wadé makes the following argument to describe why PayPal may buy Pinterest:

At its core, Pinterest is more like Google than eBay. It’s a search engine that conducts over 5 billion searches per month for fuzzy, hard-to-describe ideas where pictures, rather than words, are often the best place to start. It also has a growing ads business that produced $613 million last quarter, up 125% YoY. With Pinterest, PayPal would be buying the top of the funnel — the awareness and interest stages — for millions of websites on the internet. PayPal would provide Pinterest with the bottom of the funnel, allowing them to see the purchases that result from shopping that began on Pinterest.

Imagine if PayPal could use their core product and the commerce assets they’ve acquired over the past five years to build a deconstructed sales funnel, not just for one website, but for the whole internet.

Put a pin in it:

China is thriving

Flag of China with pile of bitcoin

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Data from CB Insights shows us that, aside from a single outsized 2018 round, China’s third quarter of 2021 was the best three-month period for Chinese startups ever — both in deal value and deal count.

Here’s what to know: We’re surprised, too. On Equity, we discussed how the growth of China’s venture capital market contrasts in sentiment with the region’s government restrictions. It seems that regulatory impact hasn’t stopped all companies from raising, and growing, their businesses there.

Internationally speaking:

Around TC

TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 is next week! My colleagues have put together an amazing show about the sector that seemingly can’t stop attracting millions from investors. We’ll see what stopped eating the world, how hunger is turning into innovation and definitely hit a few SaaSy notes through panels with experts.

Check out the event agenda, buy your pass and come hang with us on October 27.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

A massive ‘stalkerware’ leak puts the phone data of thousands at risk

What do people want in a co-founder? YC has some answers

Station F adds an online program to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs

Trump to launch his own social media platform, calling it TRUTH Social

Seen on TechCrunch+

Mission-driven ventures are growing fast during the pandemic

Dear Sophie: Any suggestions for recruiting international tech talent?

Lessons from founders raising their first round in a bull market

Udemy targets valuation of $4B in major edtech IPO

Talk soon,

N 

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Economics

DAX index forecast ahead of the ECB meeting

European stocks rose on Friday on a surge in technology stocks; still, rising inflation became a concern for investors. European inflation was confirmed at 3.4% YoY in September, and concerns grew that the European Central Bank could change its monetary..

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European stocks rose on Friday on a surge in technology stocks; still, rising inflation became a concern for investors. European inflation was confirmed at 3.4% YoY in September, and concerns grew that the European Central Bank could change its monetary policy.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said that ECB would maintain its accommodative policy for as long as necessary, but this could change soon. Germany’s DAX index has advanced again above 15,500 points, but it is still trading below its recent highs.

Germany’s recovery from the pandemic has been strong so far, and the country will release the preliminary estimates of its October Inflation data and its Q3 GDP next week.

Results from many big companies provided a strong start to third-quarter earnings, and investors’ focus will remain on the third-quarter earnings season because many companies have yet to publish their reports.

Next week, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen,  Linde, MTU Aero Engines, and Daimler are among the companies scheduled to report quarterly results.

According to the German Economic Ministry, the outlook for the industry remains positive, but the world’s supply chains crisis represents a serious problem for Germany because of its dependence on exports.

The German economy is particularly vulnerable to shortages of key parts and raw materials, and more than 40% of companies reported they had lost sales because of supply problems.

Many big companies scaled back production of some of their most profitable models, while Opel announced last month that it would shut down a factory in Eisenach until the beginning of 2022.

It is important to say that nearly half of Germany’s economic output depends on exports of cars, machine tools, and other goods, while the semiconductor shortage throttling global car production suggests more pain for the automotive industry.

Despite this, the German Economic Ministry reported that it expected this effect to be temporary while the German central bank expects that the German economy could grow 3.7% this year. The German Economic Ministry added:

Healthy order books give us reason to expect strong recovery impulses from industry, and thanks to that strong overall economic growth

The European Central Bank recently reported that exports from Eurozone would have been at least 7% higher in the first half of the year if not for supply bottlenecks. The European Central Bank will announce its decision on monetary policy next Thursday, which could significantly influence on DAX index in the near term.

15,000 points represent support

Data source: tradingview.com

DAX index has advanced again above 15,500 points, and if the price jumps above 15,800 points, the next target could be at 16,000 points.

On the other side, if the price falls below strong support that stands at 15,000 points, it would be a strong “sell” signal, and the next target could be around 14,500 points.

Summary

The European Central Bank will announce its decision on monetary policy next Thursday, which could significantly influence on DAX index in the near term. DAX index has advanced again above 15,500 points, and if the price jumps above 15,800 points, the next target could be at 16,000 points.

The post DAX index forecast ahead of the ECB meeting appeared first on Invezz.

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